Beyond the Boxscore: Calgary Flames extinguished early by Edmonton Oilers in Heritage Classic

Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 months ago
Going outside could not solve the Calgary Flames’ offensive woes as they wound up on the wrong side of a 5-2 score in the Heritage Classic. All night long the Edmonton Oilers’ forecheck constantly lead to Flames turnovers and a lack of time in the offensive zone. A rather bland affair the penalties did nothing to really raise the blood temperature of anyone – not exactly the marquee event many were hoping for. At least they gave us a good-looking jersey match-up.
CF% – 41.64%, SCF% – 29.29%, HDCF% – 17.45%, xGF% – 28.06%
It’s a Team Game – The lead was a bit too nice because the Flames got their butts kicked in a big way. The Oilers hounded them and gave them fits all night long. There was no success in breaking the puck out of their defensive end and not a single player could push play through the neutral zone when they did get a bounce. Occasionally Backlund would push back but nobody else showed the ability to step up. The big money guys can’t make plays in the big moments and it’s going to torch them this season so long as it continues. There hasn’t been much from them in terms of their play that says it’s going to immediately turn around either.
Corsi King – Matt Coronato (53.43%) kind of seems like a line fixer right now. His ability to never stop his feet while trying to drive is great, but he needs to be more mobile trying to open himself up for passing lanes. He got caught out there in the middle on the power play – specifically the 5-on-3’s – just standing in coverage. Keep your feet moving and get open for passers to find you. It’s been the same at every level the adjustment period, hopefully he comes along fine. Nikita Zadorov (52.08%) continues to be a consistently decent option on the backend. Not too many real lows and a steady stream of consistent defensive minded play. He also adds a nice jump factor when he joins the rush – it stands out because the forwards are so bad at skating through the contested ice.
Corsi Clown – I don’t know why the coaching staff thinks Dryden Hunt (27.02%) is the solutions to their top line problems, but he probably isn’t. If he was he most likely would have a) made the opening night roster and b) not been available for free last year. The line juggling doesn’t do much good if you leave 2 of 4 forward lines alone. Head coach Huska can’t find any combinations to work outside of Backlund (48.92%) – something that’s not going to find you winning very many games. Good teams don’t lose 5 straight, which says something about the current version of the Calgary Flames.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – This section is not about success today, it’s about who screwed up the worst. 5 Flames saw over 5 high danger chances against while participating in gaining nothing themselves. Young Ilya Solovyov (9.97 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) struggled with turnovers – showed some decent fight in the corners but couldn’t find his wingers. Dryden Hunt (14.89% // 0%) was completely outmatched with 10 high danger chances against just himself. Jakob Pelletier (DNP; INJ) is going to get some serious top six ice time when he heals up based on what the Flames have been using. The entire team gets a big fat grade of F here – brutal with the turnovers, just atrocious.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – Just Kadri (53.09%) and Coronato (53.09%) finished anywhere close to positive. Their linemate Huberdeau (35.04%) was not involved in their most dangerous chances. It’s not enough anymore to get 1 goal from your top guys – it’s a 4-3 league more than a 2-1 league now so the Flames desperately need someone to step up. Friendly reminder that Elias Lindholm (9.79%) wants over $9 million dollars to play for this team – and management is considering giving it to him. Based on how things are going that would not be a wise thing to continue doing. He has to show up and dominate against other top centres to be paid like a top center – that is not happening on a nightly basis.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Another night of Markstrom being forced into being perfect for his team to have any chance to compete. Markstrom was their best player again, but he can’t score goals. He can contribute though – he did nab his first assist of the season – which says something of the Flames offensive struggles. It’s tiring watching them have to work themselves to the bone in the corners only to have nobody with the ability to walk into the middle of the ice and make something happen. If the skaters don’t figure it out and Calgary does have to rebuild would that make Markstrom available later? All sorts of questions like this will arise if the Flames can’t figure their crap out.
Today’s Specials – The second unit powerplay looked more dangerous than the first unit by a mile. Part of it had to do with young Mr. Coronato being in the bumper spot – something that Nazem Kadri has been the best at his entire career. But no, why use him there it certainly wouldn’t work. Coronato moving to a flank where he could walk in and rip it? No, they don’t want that either. Why would they want goals at all! Oh yeah so, they can win games.
Player Spotlight – Jonathan Huberdeau – This team is constructed for this man to win them hockey games. You look at the pay structure of any team and the guy that is in his shoes is supposed to be the straw that stirs the drink. Right now, he can’t even navigate how to dunk his oreos let alone give the milk a swirl. This is the guy the team invested in and they need him to be the guy – not whatever the heck is coming over the boards. We’ve seen him be dynamic before and have a whole bunch of hustle in his game. I just don’t know when the hell we’re going to get to see it again.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Jacob Markstrom
2) Nazem Kadri
3) Matt Coronato
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)

The Barn Burner Nation Vacation to Arizona presented by Alberta Blue Cross is HAPPENING from Jan 11-13th, 2024! Join the action for just $1,499/person! Your ticket includes round trip flights from Calgary x Arizona, hotels, transport and hockey game tickets! Get your tickets to the ultimate sports vacation before they sell out!

Check out these posts...